Breastfeeding is NOT for the Weak – but You Can Do It!

If you’re thinking of giving up, you’ve come to the right place.

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When I got pregnant I knew I would breastfeed my child. Partly because that’s what you’re “supposed to do” and partly because I felt like it was what would be most natural and, let’s be serious – cost effective. I had heard of the discomfort that comes with breastfeeding and how important it would be to stock up on lanolin and nursing pads. I researched breast pumps and feeding positions, bought nursing bras, and picked maternity clothing based if I’d be able to nurse in them. I was ready.

Or so I thought.

The moment my son was placed on my chest, he held is head up and was already rooting. He tried latching and I felt absolutely no pain! We relaxed for an hour with his mouth on my nipple and I figured I had been one of the lucky ones who wasn’t going to have an issue.

Natural. Easy. Exactly as expected.

When we were being transferred out of the delivery ward and to our room, my midwife noted my breasts were leaking through my gown already. Colostrum was in full effect. I was learning how to ensure he was latching properly, and while there was a bit of tenderness, I felt okay overall. I knew he’d have to nurse frequently the first week and especially the first few days, but I completely underestimated what that meant.

It didn’t mean waking my son every 2 hours to make sure he was nursing enough like my friends had done. It meant sitting there with him latched to me for 8 hours straight, switching sides every hour, and literally sobbing from the pain. By the end of the first night, not only was I completely raw, I was also bruised and starting to scab.

Every midwife that came into our room told me it was normal and to keep him latched on as much as he wanted. Every mother I reached out to told me it gets better. Every latch was excruciating and the thought of pulling him off and fixing it when he had latched on incorrectly was terrifying. Luckily, my husband (usually) didn’t let me sit there with him latched on incorrectly, but would help me break the seal and try again. His support and presence while I was nursing our son helped me through every painful moment.

He was constantly filling my water bottle, stroking or kissing the top of my head during painful latches and silent (and not so silent) tears, feeding me when my hands were full and I was starving, and above all – he was there. Partners, take note. I doubt many first time moms would say it, but just having someone to rely on that tells you what a great job you’re doing when you feel like giving up is huge.

I wanted to give up. So. Badly. I thought about it every time I nursed my son. Every time he stirred. Every time I thought about feeding him again. I wanted to quit. Honestly, I probably would have had my husband and I been better off financially, but we really couldn’t afford to have to buy formula when feeding our child didn’t have to cost anything. At the time, I resented it. I resented how strapped for cash we were, our tiny apartment, and the fact that I had to endure, what felt like torture, because we couldn’t afford the alternative. Two months in, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful because had there been an option to quit, I would have taken it. I would have used my son’s lip-tie as an excuse, or maybe the scabbed nipples, the inability to get him to latch, the uncomfortable positions, the constant nursing all through the night… I would have used it all as an excuse to stop. I wouldn’t have pushed through. It would have been easier to quit.

If you’re thinking about quitting, I get it. Hearing that it gets better simply doesn’t help. Those words don’t comfort you as you try over and over to get your baby to latch correctly while gritting your teeth. They don’t help when you’re running on fumes and are at the end of your rope. I honestly understand. I was there.

Introducing formula might sound so good right now and if it does, I don’t blame you. If you do, I don’t blame you. If you don’t, I don’t blame you. If you choose to pump, pump. If you choose to give formula because it’s just too much, give it. But if you want to nurse, if you’ve looked at your baby and known this is what you want to do, don’t give up.

You can push through. I promise.

-LP

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(Not) Bonding with Your Baby

Having a baby is hard; feeling like you’re doing it wrong makes it harder.

When I gave birth to my son, I was exhausted.

Yeah, I know what you were expecting. You were expecting me to say I was in love, overjoyed, overcome with emotion… something like that, right? I could say that, but I’d be lying. A more accurate description would be exhausted, relieved, or shocked, but that’s not what you generally hear when a new mom is talking about the birth of her child. You hear nothing but the positives. Nothing but love and joy. Nothing but the good stuff.

I was expecting the good stuff. I was expecting an immediate bond that brought me to tears and made my life feel complete. I was expecting his birth to live up to the images I had swirling around in my head from the moment the test read “pregnant” and when none of that happened, I was confused.

Sure, you can blame it on the 38 hours of labor. You could blame it on the fact that I was giving birth in a foreign country and felt completely out of my element. You could blame it on the fact that my husband an I weren’t in the best place when we were leaving for the hospital, the cold weather, the full moon, hell, blame it on Donald Trump or the bad tacos I must have eaten the day before. Blame it on whatever you want, but I was not bonded with my child and that was terrifying. So, I did what all first time mothers do, I blamed it on myself.

Something had to be wrong with me. I just knew it. How could I not be madly in love with the life I literally grew inside of my body for 42 weeks straight? I was a bad mom and I had only just started.

Things did not get better with breastfeeding… you know, the “natural thing” that all mammals can do. Nursing my child was excruciating and, yet again, exhausting. Spending 8 hours straight with a baby nursing on your raw nipples is awful; a lip-tie doesn’t help and all the nipple cream in the world will never be enough, but that’s for another post. It’s sufficient to say, things just got worse and they kept getting worse.

I was sore, tired, and overwhelmed. Neither my husband nor I had any idea as to what we were doing; baby books didn’t help with this part so we anxiously waited for the bond to form while muddling through postpartum hormones, sleeplessness, and pain.

The pain wasn’t just physical, it was emotional too. We thought we were awful parents. We couldn’t calm our screaming baby down and the moments we did were few and far between. I constantly asked my husband what I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t I able to cherish these moments everyone talks about? What was wrong with me?

We both just needed to know if and when things would get better. After weeks of suffering through and barely surviving, I can say things do get better. They’re still not easy. We’re still struggling every day, but I get it now when people tell you to cherish this time. I get it because I’ve finally started to bond with my son. Seeing his face light up with excitement while my husband taps on his hands, hearing his first happy coos and exclamations, watching him grow… those moments are the ones to cherish but it’s okay if you’re stuck in the thick of it and feel like you’re missing something.

Not everyone bonds with their baby immediately.

I wish someone had warned me and told me that it doesn’t make you a bad parent. The bond will come. Things will get easier. One day, you’ll get a little more sleep. One day, you’ll look at your baby and just feel it. One day, you’ll just know.

Hold on, momma. You’re doing great.

-LP

I Crave the Breeze

I’ve noticed as we grow, we try to tame the wild parts of ourselves.

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I realized this fact, yet again, as I was looking at myself in the mirror this morning, running my fingers through the halo of messy brown hair framing my bare face. At 15, I let the curls do their thing, but now I wake up early to smooth them into a more respectable form; I spend 10 minutes applying makeup to this face in order to “accentuate my features.” I spend a majority of my morning trying to transform into a version of myself that I’ve somehow grown into.

Why is it that as we age we feel the need to be tame? Is that just me? Surely, I cannot be the only one who feels like I’ve let go the colorful and crazy pieces of themselves. I was so eager to grow up; I wanted to have the freedom that came along with adulthood, but I didn’t realize how much would change and how quickly. I can’t stay up on the phone until 6 am and roll out of bed at 7 for work without looking and feeling like a zombie. It’s no longer “appropriate” to wear bright blue nail polish and 5 friendship bracelets on one wrist. I can’t even remember the last time I spent an entire day dancing around and eating chips by the handful without a care in the world. When did I last run for fun and not exercise? When’s the last time I spent the entire day in bed with a book and didn’t feel guilty about it? I still remember illegally piercing my cartilage at 15 and hiding it from my mother; over a year ago, I removed that little token of defiance. I think it’s time to put it back in.

But, now I actually separate my wash into lights and darks. I know how to properly iron a pair of trousers and tie the perfect Windsor knot (thanks dad!). I have to file taxes and pay bills. I realize how expensive gas is and why people complain about utilities; I can hold my own in debates about politics, religion, and culture, but truth is, I still know more about Harry Potter than I’d like to admit. I still toy with the idea of painting my toenails blue and when I’m feeling extra saucy I wear an anklet in the summer. Crazy, I know. I just wish I had realized how quickly life goes by; my dad always said that once you leave high school, time flies by. I always laughed at the thought, but as I walked across the stage at my high school commencements, I realized that I was closing another chapter and moving to the next.

On thanksgiving morning, I looked at myself in the mirror before walking out the door. I turned my head from left to right, pushed a strand of perfectly straightened, short, brown hair behind my ear, and looked into my spectacle framed eyes. I sighed when I realized that I’m no longer seventeen. Now let me explain; I don’t feel old, but I just caught a glimpse at myself and I look so different. I have faint wrinkles around my eyes when I smile and I wear diamond studs, glasses, and I do my hair and makeup each day. I don’t recognize myself. When I think about what I look like, I still imagine myself at seventeen. I still imagine the long wavy brown hair and the young, innocent chocolate eyes I once had. I don’t know when life morphed into this entirely new chapter, but the page turned so quickly, I must not have had the chance to notice this time.

-LP

Is it Getting Hot in Here or is it Just Me?

Someone grab a thermometer, this baby fever is out of control.

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When I was a teen, babies were terrifying. Like who wants something that only burps, poops, and sleeps all day? Well… uh, I.. um, kind of…do. I can feel the 16 year-old version of myself rolling her eyes. “Sure, kids are cute, but I like to play with them and send them home to their parents,” she says.

And she’s right.

I’ve got those hopes and dreams to chase after first. I want to be able to stay up late, not because some baby is crying, but because I’m in the middle of a great chapter or because I’m enjoying the company of someone beside me. I’m not ready to give up my selfish ways just yet. I mean seriously.

Spit up? Hard pass.

Dirty diapers? How about not…

That being said, let me say one thing: After spending years listening to Shane Koyzcan (yeah, I’m talking about him again) his poem Atlantis is seriously hitting a soft spot on my heart lately.

I mean, just listen to these words:

Maybe the best we can hope for
Is that those we leave behind find comfort in knowing
That we’re born out of love,
And not science.

That biology explains the how,
Love explains the why,
So in the event of our deaths
We hereby bequeath all of these words to you.

And they are only meant to say that
Uncertainty is something everyone goes through.
And there is not much in the way of proof
But believe me, we loved you.

I just love that line “biology explains the how, but love explains the why.” As someone with a strong foundation in biology/anatomy & physiology, I have to say that it’s crazy how scientific having a child can feel. It’s true the egg and sperm meet, things go down, and nine months later there’s a little babe. It’s just such a beautiful thing to know that biology is how that child came to be, but love is why they’re here. That’s truly magical.

I was recently talking to a fancy fella about what would be a good reason to have kids; he told me, jokingly (I think!), that it’s so we have someone to come visit us when we’re old. I’m sure many people truly feel that way, but I don’t.

I want a child because I want someone who is half me, half the person I love. To me, that’s so damn beautiful. I’m not ready for that now; I’m truly not, but it’s something I think about for sure. Once I hit 21 I started thinking babies were cute and I was about half-way considering having one, one day, in the very distant future. But now, I don’t want that “future” to be that far off.

Hopefully if the boyf reads this he doesn’t freak out! Hold your horses, babe, I’m not telling you to knock me up this instant, promise. I want the fun stuff with you first. The very fun stuff, for a very long time.

-LP

P.S. If you want to hear the amazingness of Shane Koyczan as he performs Atlantis, click on this link. You won’t be disappointed, promise. *Affiliate Link*

P.P.S. I just want to add, if you don’t want kids that’s totes cool, yo! You do you, no judgement either way. Seriously.